This is DC, the capital of American politics and a city (obviously) awesome in every other category (i.e. Forbes said we’re the coolest; we have the BEST music scene; we’re in the best shape; and everyone wants to come here). So, since we are the greatest, it should come as no surprise that we got all out on the Fourth of July too.
Fireworks go off all over the DMV area but the big celebration happens down on the National Mall. There’s a concert all day at the Capitol steps and the fireworks go off over the Tidal Basin just after sunset. The great thing about the fireworks on the Mall is that it can seem like a different show depending on where you see it.
So, where on the Mall should you watch the fireworks?
- If you can get there early enough, and don’t mind the crowds, you see them from the Capitol steps after you enjoy the concert.
- Watching on the Mall between 12th and 15th street (between American History and the EPA) you’ll have a great view and the Washington Monument will be in all your firework photos!
- If you want unobstructed views of the show, on the other side of the Monument, on its lawn, you’ll have a great view and the WWII Memorial, which looks beautiful at night, will really light up the experience.
- Now, since they go off at Hains Point and reach peak height over the Tidal Basin, you’ll really get the best views at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial but space is limited (and it may be a whole day activity camping out there). Though, it’s totally #worthit.
If you’re just visiting or new to the District, seeing the fireworks on the Mall is a definite check off the bucket list (and often the line-up at the concert can be pretty dope) but if you’ve already seen them on the green, we recommend checking them out from other spots in the city. Curbed DC has a great list that include our picks for avoiding the crowds and seeing the show.
- Meridian Hill Park: this park is one of the most beautiful and underrated parks in the city but at the top of the Hill, you get an awesome view of the the DC (and Arlington) skyline. The park borders W St to its south, 16th Street to its west, 15th to the east and Euclid to the north. Basically, it’s situated above U St., besides Adams Morgan and below Columbia heights but I’m sure you can just google it. : D
- The Washington National Cathedral is also a great place to see the Mall fireworks and any of them that come from Arlington or NE. It is beautifully lit at night and gives an amazing view at close to the highest point in the city. Located on Wisconsin Avenue and just north of Mass Ave in NW.
- US Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) has one of the best views of the DC skyline from across the Potomac with all the major landmarks you hope to see when the loud bangs blast the American Dream into your veins. This pick isn’t necessarily cheating the system because there will definitely be A LOT OF PEOPLE there BUT it is well worth it. We recommend taking a Cab, Lyft or Uber over from Rosslyn because trying to find parking may take all the fun out of the evening.
Remember, the fireworks aren’t the only thing happening this weekend! Here’s what else is happening in the District on…
Why, yes… that is a giant ball pit! The National Building Museum is known for doing some pretty awesome large scale interactive exhibits (the Maze, anyone?!) and this is no exception. Taking up the historic building’s Great Hall that covers around 10,000 square feet, the BEACH is another large scale collaboration from Brooklyn based design group Snarkitecture who also designed the Maze last year.
Complete with beach chairs, a beach style snack shack run by, the amazing, DC-based Union Kitchen, and nearly ONE MILLION recyclable translucent plastic balls, the BEACH is the art world’s way of telling us that you’re never to old for a ball pit. You’re more than welcome to “swim” in the ocean or just chill by the shore and play some games! We assume the project is some meta way of exploring ocean plastic pollution through art but, who knows?! Just have fun and maybe do some volunteer work some other time. Tickets are included with admission and the exhibit lasts until September.
National Independence Day Parade (11:45am) Independence Ave
Oh the 4th: the fireworks, the food, the parades! The 4th is known for amazing hometown parades all over the country but the National Independence Day Parade is the biggest. It starts at 11:45 am and goes down the whole stretch of Independence Avenue. We think the best place to see it is in front of White House at the corner of 16th street but, of course, you can see the parade from anywhere along the line. HOWEVER, the other parades in the DMV area can be overshadowed by the one downtown.
Here’s what else is going on July 4th!
The Palisades Parade (11am) MacArthur Blvd NW TOP PICK
In NW just behind American University is “the best small town parade in DC”. The Palisades neighborhood is an adorable, beautiful neighborhood along the Potomac that has a small town feel while still maintaining the urban elegance of Georgetown. And don’t expect to see your favorite DC celebs downtown because the local politicians tend to check this one out instead.
NoMa’s July 4th Bash @ Storey Park (4pm- 7pm)
NoMa has a block party where you can enjoy a live blue grass concert, have water balloons fights, play corn hole and more! Free hamburgers, hotdogs, and watermelon will be available for the first 200 people, courtesy of NoMa’s Harris Teeter. This free and public event was organized by the NoMa BID, and hosted by Storey Park.